Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Starting the New Year in London

Marble Arch

We surprised the kids with a trip to London the day after Christmas! This was a crazy idea that Kirk and I only planned the week before Christmas, making it even crazier. Trying to get a hotel room to accommodate four people that last minute was super tricky, and I was really worried about how it was going to work out even after I did book a room that would 'supposedly' accommodate four. I had no idea the entire nation of France goes to London that week. Everything was booked solid. But somehow, everything just kept working out and falling into place so that we were able to go.

Jordan totally freaked out when she found out, she was so excited. Brennan was excited too but not at the screaming level of Jordan's excitement.

Every single flight on the way there and on the way home was delayed. The flight out from Phoenix was delayed because the stewardess for our flight slept in. You may wonder if such a thing is possible, that an entire flight crew and plane and hundreds of people will have to wait at the airport when you sleep in and show up late for work and the answer is yes, that's exactly what happens. A huge airline like US Air can only offer you the small comfort that "we're in touch with her via cell and she is on her way". When she shows up in full makeup with her hair curled you might consider doing her bodily harm as I did by that point. It's already a 15 hour flight, waiting around for her to show at the airport seemed like an ominous start to the trip to me. But it wasn't, it was really the only thing that went wrong.

We were able to visit all the major sites via bus the first day. Our idea was to combat the jet lag and yet take it easy that day doing one of those hop on hop off tours, but mostly just staying on while making a plan to come back on a subsequent day to any of the sites we wanted. It was a good idea, except I failed to calculate the jet lag in combination with a warm bus on a cold day. My kids fell asleep almost immediately. The hotel was perfect. It was big and spacious and super close to two tube stations with a comfy bed and two showers. Jet Lag

The second day the kids and Kirk went ice skating in the moat at the Tower of London! We saw the crown jewels and did the tour of the Tower. We took a quick trip to Harrods and saw ridiculous items like a $800,000 watch!
Ice Skating at the Tower Tower of London Ice Skating Harrods in Background
We visited several museums while we were there (Art museums) - we spent an entire day at The British National Gallery, and then another day at both the Tate and the Tate Modern. We saw some amazing things! Too bad they won't let you take pictures inside so we can't really share. Kirk tried to take a photo of the wall inside looking out and he was reprimanded. We also hung around Trafalgar Square, walked through Piccadilly, Went on the London Eye, tramped around the Oxford high street shopping area, explored around Parliament and Westminster, took two boat rides on the Thames and generally crammed more stuff into our 9 days than one might imagine we could stuff in!PhoneJordan, London EyeThames

We took a trip out of town and toured Windsor Castle, Stone Henge and Bath, where the ancient roman baths are located. It was super cool because we planned on staying in London the entire time, so this trip was kind of a spontaneous trip within a trip!Windsor Stone Henge Bath Roman Baths

On New Years it just all got ridiculously awesome. A guy Kirk knew on his mission set us up at the best seats to the best fireworks show in the world. We were on the Thames, right across from Big Ben (on the 150th anniversary of Big Ben as well!) standing almost right underneath the London Eye while crazy fireworks (millions of dollars of fireworks) were being shot off left and right all around us. It was almost insane that they let anyone stand there at all. It felt like standing in the middle of a fairy tale. It was just awesome! There were seriously only about 100 people who had the view that we did amongst the thousands and thousands of people down there cramming the bridges trying to get a view. Taking the tube that night was interesting. I've never seen so much public drunkenness in my life. Nor had to side step so much vomit. New Years

We took the tube everywhere - one day we took it to Camden Lock, shopped around in the little stalls and on the streets and then Kirk went looking for a Banksy and found one. That was a highlight of the trip for us all!Banksy under Camden CanalCamden Lock

One day we spent going to both Wicked and Les Miserable and eating in London's China Town. Les MisWest End WickedIn London's China Town

We also spent some time eating street food, at a chip shop, pubs and managed to even catch some rides at a London Street Carnival.Pizza PlaceLondon Carnival

We could not have had a better trip if we had planned it all out in advance!


Cynthia said...

That is actually amazing that you pulled off such a great trip in such a short amount of time. It sounded perfect! Love the pictures. I want to tag along next time.

Suzanne Barker said...

What a wonderful and memorable trip for your family! I would probably be having heart failure planning at the last moment like that, but that's me!

Sarah said...

So, that is where you all disappeared to! How cool is that! I love London. I took a really fun trip there when I was in college. When my kids get older we are going back!!!!


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